Section 3. Airport Conditions

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  • Section 3. Airport Conditions


    If you observe or are informed of any condition which affects the safe use of a landing area:

    • NOTE:
    • 1. The airport management/military operations office is responsible for observing and reporting the condition of the landing area.
    • 2. It is the responsibility of the agency operating the airport to provide the tower with current information regarding airport conditions.
    • 3. A disabled aircraft on a runway, after occupants are clear, is normally handled by flight standards and airport management/military operations office personnel in the same manner as any obstruction; e.g., construction equipment.
    1. Relay the information to the airport manager/military operations office concerned.
    2. Copy verbatim any information received and record the name of the person submitting it.
    3. Confirm information obtained from other than authorized airport or FAA personnel unless this function is the responsibility of the military operations office.

      NOTE: Civil airport managers are required to provide a list of airport employees who are authorized to issue information concerning conditions affecting the safe use of the airport.

    4. If you are unable to contact the airport management or operator, issue a NOTAM publicizing an unsafe condition and inform the management or operator as soon as practicable.
      • EXAMPLE
      • NOTE:
      • 1. Legally, only the airport management/military operations office can close a runway.
      • 2. Military controllers are not authorized to issue NOTAMs. It is the responsibility of the military operations office.
    5. Runway Condition Codes (RwyCC).
      1. Furnish RwyCC, as received from the Airport Operator, to aircraft via the ATIS.
        1. (a) Use the runway number, followed by the RwyCC, for each of the three runway segments, and include the time of the report.
          • EXAMPLE
          • “Runway Two-Seven, condition codes two, two, three at one zero one eight zulu.”
        2. (b) When an update to the RwyCC is provided, verbally issue to all aircraft until the ATIS broadcast can be updated.
          • EXAMPLE
          • “Runway (number) condition codes two, three, one.”
        • REFERENCE
        • Advisory Circular AC 150/5200-30D, Airport Winter Safety and Operations
      2. Issue FICON NOTAMs upon pilot request, workload permitting.
    6. In the absence of RwyCC, issue to aircraft only factual information, as reported by the airport operator or pilots concerning the condition of the runway surface, describing the accumulation of precipitation.
      • EXAMPLE
      • “All runways covered by compacted snow 6 inches deep.”


    If an aircraft requests to takeoff, land, or touch-and-go on a closed or unsafe runway, inform the pilot the runway is closed or unsafe, and

    1. If the pilot persists in his/her request, quote him/her the appropriate parts of the NOTAM applying to the runway and inform him/her that a clearance cannot be issued.
    2. Then, if the pilot insists and in your opinion the intended operation would not adversely affect other traffic, inform him/her that the operation will be at his/her own risk.
      • RUNWAY (runway number) CLOSED/UNSAFE. If appropriate, (quote NOTAM information),
    3. Except as permitted by para 4-8-7, Side-step Maneuver, where parallel runways are served by separate ILS systems and one of the runways is closed, the ILS associated with the closed runway should not be used for approaches unless not using the ILS would have an adverse impact on the operational efficiency of the airport.


    Issue airport condition information necessary for an aircraft's safe operation in time for it to be useful to the pilot. Include the following, as appropriate:

    1. Construction work on or immediately adjacent to the movement area.
    2. Rough portions of the movement area.
    3. Braking conditions caused by ice, snow, slush, or water.
    4. Snowdrifts or piles of snow on or along the edges of the area and the extent of any plowed area.
    5. Parked aircraft on the movement area.
    6. Irregular operation of part or all of the airport lighting system.
    7. Volcanic ash on any airport surface area and whether the ash is wet or dry (if known).

      NOTE: Braking action on wet ash may be degraded. Dry ash on the runway may necessitate minimum use of reverse thrust.

    8. Other pertinent airport conditions.


    Furnish quality of braking action, as received from pilots, to all aircraft as follows:

    1. Describe the quality of braking action using the terms “good,” “good to medium,” “medium,” “medium to poor,” “poor,” or “nil.” If the pilot reports braking action in other than the approved terms, ask him/her to categorize braking action in these terms.

      NOTE: The term “nil” is used to indicate bad or no braking action.

    2. Include type of aircraft or vehicle from which the report is received.
      • EXAMPLE
      • “Braking action medium, reported by a heavy Boeing Seven Sixty-Seven.”
      • “Braking action poor, reported by a Boeing Seven Thirty-Seven.”
    3. If the braking action report affects only a portion of a runway, obtain enough information from the pilot to describe the braking action in terms easily understood by other pilots.
      • EXAMPLE
      • “Braking action poor first half of runway, reported by a Boeing Seven Fifty-Seven.”
      • “Braking action good to medium beyond the intersection of Runway Two Seven, reported by an Airbus Three Twenty-One.”

      NOTE: Descriptive terms, such as the first or the last half of the runway, should normally be used rather than landmark descriptions, such as opposite the fire station, south of a taxiway, etc. Landmarks extraneous to the landing runway are difficult to distinguish during low visibility, at night, or anytime a pilot is busy landing an aircraft.

    4. Issue the runway surface condition and/or the Runway Condition Reading (RCR), if provided, to all USAF and ANG aircraft. Issue the RCR to other aircraft upon pilot request.
      • EXAMPLE
      • “Ice on runway, RCR zero five, patchy.”

      NOTE: USAF offices furnish RCR information at airports serving USAF and ANG aircraft.


    1. When runway braking action reports are received from pilots or the airport management which include the terms “medium,” “poor,” or “nil” or whenever weather conditions are conducive to deteriorating or rapidly changing runway conditions, include on the ATIS broadcast the statement “Braking Action Advisories are in effect.”
      • FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 10-4-1, Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS).
    2. During the time Braking Action Advisories are in effect, take the following action:
      1. Issue the latest braking action report for the runway in use to each arriving and departing aircraft early enough to be of benefit to the pilot. When possible, include reports from super or heavy aircraft when the arriving or departing aircraft is a super or heavy.
      2. If no report has been received for the runway of intended use, issue an advisory to that effect.
      3. Advise the Airport Operator that runway braking action reports of “good to medium,” “medium,” “medium to poor,” “poor,” or “nil” have been received.
        • REFERENCE
        • FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 4-3-1, Letters of Agreement.
      4. Solicit PIREPs of runway braking action.


    1. For normal operations, arresting systems remotely controlled by ATC must remain in the retracted or down position.
      • NOTE:
      • USN Runway Arresting Gear-barriers are not operated by ATC personnel. Readiness/rigging of the equipment is the responsibility of the operations department.
      • A request to raise a barrier or hook cable means the barrier or cable on the departure end of the runway. If an approach end engagement is required, the pilot or military authority will specifically request that the approach end cable be raised.
      • FAA Order JO 7610.4, Chapter 9, Section 3. Aircraft Arresting System, Single Frequency Approach (SFA), Simulated Flameout (SFO)/Emergency Landing Pattern (ELP) Operations, Celestial Navigation (CELNAV) Training, Para 9-3-1 through Para 9-3-8.
    2. Raise aircraft arresting systems whenever:
      1. Requested by a pilot.
        • NOTE: The standard emergency phraseology for a pilot requesting an arresting system to be raised for immediate engagement is:
        • or
        • “CABLE - CABLE - CABLE.”
      2. Requested by military authority; e.g., airfield manager, supervisor of flying, mobile control officer, etc.

        NOTE: USAF. Web barriers at the departure end of the runway may remain in the up position when requested by the senior operational commander. The IFR Enroute Supplement and AP-1 will describe specific barrier configuration. ATC will advise transient aircraft of the barrier configuration using the phraseology in subpara c, below.

      3. A military jet aircraft is landing with known or suspected radio failure or conditions (drag chute/hydraulic/electrical failure, etc.) that indicate an arresting system may be needed. Exceptions are authorized for military aircraft which cannot engage an arresting system (C-9, C-141, C-5, T-39, etc.) and should be identified in a letter of agreement and/or appropriate military directive.
    3. When requested by military authority due to freezing weather conditions or malfunction of the activating mechanism, the barrier/cable may remain in a raised position provided aircraft are advised.
      • YOUR DEPARTURE/LANDING WILL BE TOWARD/OVER A RAISED BARRIER/CABLE ON RUNWAY (number), (location, distance, as appropriate).
    4. Inform civil and U.S. Army aircraft whenever rubber supported cables are in place at the approach end of the landing runway, and include the distance of the cables from the threshold. This information may be omitted if it is published in the Domestic Notices webpage, International Notices webpage, or the DOD FLIP.
      • EXAMPLE
      • “Runway One Four arresting cable one thousand feet from threshold.”
    5. When arresting system operation has been requested, inform the pilot of the indicated barrier/cable position.
    6. Time permitting, advise pilots of the availability of all arresting systems on the runway in question when a pilot requests barrier information.
    7. If an aircraft engages a raised barrier/cable, initiate crash alarm procedures immediately.
    8. For preplanned practice engagements not associated with emergencies, crash alarm systems need not be activated if, in accordance with local military operating procedures, all required notifications are made before the practice engagement.


    1. To meet the demand for more facilities capable of operating under CAT III weather, Type II equipment is being upgraded to Integrity Level 3. This integrity level will support operations which place a high degree of reliance on ILS guidance for positioning through touchdown.
    2. Installation of the FFM remote status indicating units is necessary to attain the integrity necessary to meet internationally agreed upon reliability values in support of CAT III operations on Type II ILS equipment. The remote status indicating unit used in conjunction with Type II equipment adds a third integrity test; thereby, producing an approach aid which has integrity capable of providing Level 3 service.
    3. The remote status sensing unit, when installed in the tower cab, will give immediate indications of localizer out-of-tolerance conditions. The alarm in the FFM remote status sensing unit indicates an inoperative or an out-of-tolerance localizer signal; e.g., the course may have shifted due to equipment malfunction or vehicle/aircraft encroachment into the critical area.
    4. Operation of the FFM remote sensing unit will be based on the prevailing weather. The FFM remote sensing unit must be operational when the weather is below CAT II ILS minimums.
      • FAA Order 6750.24, Appendix A, Abnormal Checklist.
    5. When the remote status unit indicates that the localizer FFM is in alarm (aural warning following the preset delay) and:
      1. The aircraft is outside the middle marker (MM) or in the absence of a MM, ½ mile final, check for encroachment of those portions of the critical area that can be seen from the tower. It is understood that the entire critical area may not be visible due to low ceilings and poor visibility. The check is strictly to determine possible causal factors for the out-of-tolerance situation. If the alarm has not cleared prior to the aircraft's arriving at the MM or in the absence of a MM, ½ mile final, immediately issue an advisory that the FFM remote status sensing unit indicates the localizer is unreliable.
      2. The aircraft is between the MM or ½ mile final and the inner marker (IM), or if the IM is not installed, the CAT II Missed Approach Point (MAP), immediately issue an advisory that the FFM remote status sensing unit indicates the localizer is unreliable.
      3. The aircraft has passed the IM or the CAT II MAP (if the IM is not installed) there is no action requirement. Although the FFM has been modified with filters which dampen the effect of false alarms, you may expect alarms when aircraft are located between the FFM and the localizer antenna either on landing or on takeoff.
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